It was fewer than three weeks ago that Phoenix Coyotes general manager Don Maloney cited “behavioral issues” as the reason he and his team bought out the remaining three years of Mike Ribeiro’s contract.
“To his credit, he has been getting help this offseason and obviously would hope he continues,” Maloney said at the time, according to the Arizona Republic. “But at the end of the year and all the background checking and what happened, we felt that for us to move forward, we couldn't have him a part of this team.”
Tuesday the Nashville Predators signed the 34-year-old forward to a one-year, $1.05 million contract – and did their best to make him sound like a pillar of professionalism.
“Mike is a talented veteran center who has produced offensively everywhere he has played,” general manager David Poile said in a statement. “We have done our due diligence and believe Mike has a lot to offer to our team, improves us at our center ice position and will fit in with our group and contribute.”
The Predators will be his fourth team in as many different seasons. He was with Dallas in 2011-12, with Washington in 2012-13 and with Phoenix a year ago.
A second-round pick by Montreal in 1998, he has scored 20 goals or more three times in the NHL and has topped 15 in each of the last nine 82-game seasons. He has 656 points (202 goals, 454 assists) in 865 career games.
The Coyotes considered him a foundation piece and their No. 1 center when they signed him last summer to a four-year, $22 million contract. They eventually benched him for two games during their push for the playoffs, which they missed out on by two points.
According to reports, coaches paired him with a number of different wingers and he failed to find chemistry with any of them. His 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) last season were his fewest in more than a decade.
“I think it was a lot of things," Ribeiro said following the season, according to the Arizona Republic. "It's not just about hockey but a lot of things. Never having my groove, never found it. It was just a hard season for me. I think it was one of my worst seasons. But … I don't believe it can get worse.”
The Predators better hope it doesn’t.
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